We know how an adult is defined. We also feel that certain experiences define us as an adult. Like the inner child, our adult self is another part of who we are, but not all of who we are. It’s the part of us that is a “given” because we assume we’re already it.
The truth is, MOST of us, no matter how old we are, or how “spiritually evolved” we think we may be, are operating from our inner child, not our adult, in many important areas of our lives. We ALL do this and we don’t even know we’re doing it.
So, who is the adult self? To best explain this, think of when you were little (ironically). No matter how good or bad your parents were, they made all the decisions. They met all of your needs, like giving you food and shelter. They were the boss. They were in control. They were in charge. You, as a child, believed the adult knew everything, about everything. They were the grown-ups, and grown-ups never made mistakes. They were the ones who kept you safe. They were your home.
So How Do We Know the Difference Between the Two?
Our adult is the part of us that is strong in our thoughts, mature in our decision making, responsible with actions, grounded and rooted, willing to take a risk, brave and courageous, stares down fear, is nurturing and kind and empowered by who they are. When we’re within our adult self, we take care of responsibilities, have good manners, listen to others, are kind but respectful of ourselves, draw boundaries, show up on time, offer our help to others, don’t tolerate rudeness or drama, are not petty, are not judgmental. We bring our adult into situations like business meetings, or when we need to get the kids to school on time, make healthy dinners for our family, know we must not be late for work, keep appointments, and run our lives in a sensible way.
- Your adult is never going to be the one who has a temper tantrum at work because something didn’t go their way.
- Your adult is never going to be the gossip or talk behind another’s back to be hurtful.
- Your adult will not engage in drama of any sort.
- Your adult is never going to experience flight or fight.
- Your adult is never going to spend all of your money.
- Your adult is never going to overeat.
- Your adult is never going to shame you or put you down.
- Your adult will never judge you or anyone else.
- Your adult is never going to be the one who does not know what to do.
- Your adult is never the one who will feel left out if everyone but you goes to lunch.
- Your adult is not envious, jealous, or feeling separated and left out.
- Your adult is never going to be scared.
- Your adult is never going to be the one who does not have faith.
- Your adult is never going to stop in fear because they are afraid of success.
Why? Because adults know that those are emotional reactions to situations. They realize that drama is a waste of time. They realize that when others act out, it’s from their child. Adults have the ability and maturity to recognize another’s behavior as strictly coming from that person’s wounded child’s place (that just wants to be seen, heard, and validated). They know to hold space for others and not take things personal. By holding space, they provide a safe space for the others to get it all out, without taking on their emotions and making it their own. They recognize other people’s child’s reactions, and they know not to get in the sandbox with them. They know you, as the adult, will always know what to do.
Your adult is the one your child can turn to in order keep them safe from the things that children have no business dealing with. Your adult is the one who will nurture their child, protect, validate, and love them no matter what. The adult is wise and has solutions. The adult is not going to react, only act. The adult thoughts are more deliberate while their actions are more directed.
Lesson 3 Homework:
We can know a lot of things in our head, yet by writing them down, and getting them out, we’re able to get a different perspective of the same story we tell. By detaching and witnessing from our story, it gives to us the ability to see ourselves in a way we didn’t before. It’s only when we’re honest with ourselves that we can truly begin to heal.
For this assignment, only work with your adult self. Remember judgment, self-pity, sadness, and (emotional) reactions come from your child. If you start to feel those feelings, recognize that they are your inner child and tell him/her this is for grownups only. You love them, yet you as the adult are going to do this work because it is not for them. Be firm, yet loving. Let them know they can go outside and play or use this time for a favorite activity. This work is yours.
- Grab your Bridge Book.
- Clear your head.
- Get grounded.
- Begin again.
- There’s no time limit.
Use this as an exercise in order to begin to understand what the two feel like when they come together. Witness the struggle and trust your inner child has in being the child. Witness how your inner child always steps up to do the work of your adult. Where is your adult? Why are they not there? They aren’t there because they didn’t know. Call them in and have them do this exercise. Make sure they are lovingly letting the child know that this is their homework assignment, not theirs.
Once your adult is fully present, begin to think about:
What’s your life showing you, right now? In what ways are you not coming from your adult?
Here are some examples: (Use these examples and/or feel free to add your own. Remember to detach, witness, and not judge yourself. Only allow your adult self to do this exercise.)
- Picking bad relationships
- Sabotaging yourself
- Inability to be happy for others and yourself
- Judging others
- Putting people down
- Not being able to be on time for appointments
- Emotional eating
- Refusing to see clearly
- Lack of financial stability
- Fear of success
- Liking drama
- Fears that stop you from moving forward
- Feeling anxious
- Being a victim
How does NOT coming from your adult affect your life?
Here are some examples (Write a list below of how you might feel when you are not in your adult):
- Resentful of others
- Feeling like a victim
- “Poor me” mentality
- Passive aggressiveness
On the next page in your Bridge Book, have a meeting with yourself. Begin the dialogue with your adult on how to best take the decision-making from the child, allowing your adult self to do its work. Talk to your adult. Brainstorm solutions to better handle the situations in your life. Come up with a rough plan on how you will work to protect your child, rather than allow your child to protect you. Start thinking of ways your adult self can improve your life. Here are some examples:
- Better decisions
- Picking better friends
- Staying in control
- Feeling empowered
- Choosing different activities
- Not overreacting
- Not overeating to soothe your feelings
- Not spending money you don’t have to temporarily feel better
- Listening more
- Having more compassion to others who do not know what you know now
- Holding space
- Becoming more self-aware
- Being nicer to yourself
- Educating yourself on how to be more of what you already are as an adult